John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Pass the Graham DACA Bill

Posted on December 20, 2016

Is it fair to punish children for the sins of their parents?

Is it fair to expel from this country children who have been here for up to twenty years or more because their parents didn’t have the proper paperwork?

Most people would say no.  It is not fair on either account.

Now, life is not often fair, and perhaps that shouldn’t be the test that we apply to those 740,000 people who live in the United States, work here, contribute to society, and except for the fact that they don’t have citizenship, are very good citizens.

Even Donald Trump, who ran and won the White House with a promise to be tough on illegal immigration, thinks that something must be done for the so-called Dreamers.   Here is what he told Time Magazine:
"We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud. They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

That something could be new legislation introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham that could enact into law President Obama’s Executive Order that gave these Dreamers the ability to continue to live and work and contribute to American society without fear of deportation.

Most of these folks came out of the shadows and identified themselves because President Obama guaranteed that they could do so without worry.

President-elect Trump wants to take care of these same people through law because he doesn’t like his predecessor’s abuse of executive orders.

This isn’t just an academic concern of Mr. Trump.  The Judicial branch has also taken a dim view of President Obama’s overreach.

But if the DACA program is eliminated, it will cause a huge disruption in the marketplace.  The effects could be immediate.  The 740,000 in the program will likely lose their jobs.   When they lose their jobs, they will likely be unable to pay their mortgages, make their car payments, or afford basic necessities for their kids.

According to one study, ending the DACA program could wipe close to half a trillion from America’s gross national product over the next decade.

There is little political peril in passing legislation to authorize the DACA program.  According to a Pew survey, 63% of the American people support the Dreamers.   Americans understand instinctively that it would be unfair to kick them out of the country.

And keeping them legally employed actually increases wages in the US.   DACA recipients increase their average hourly wage by 45% since the program started.  Legal immigrants are less likely to be exploited by employees, more likely to pay taxes and contribute to Social Security, and more likely to see their wages increase.

President Obama was wrong when he used non-existent Executive Authority to create the DACA program, but he had his heart in the right place.  And it is the right thing to do politically, economically and morally.  It should be one of the first pieces of legislation signed by President Trump.

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